Douglas came to live in Radlett with his family in a large house at the top of Gill’s Hill just after The War. A lawyer, he worked in the City, and Eric Parker, a friend on the Stock Exchange, persuaded him to join his local club, probably in 1949, Parker’s season as captain.
He was a former Surrey and England captain with 22 Test appearances – including the notorious Bodyline series in Australia. He proved to be a friendly, popular club man at Radlett, not at all aloof as his public image might suggest. He mixed in effortlessly and scored runs in the games he played for Radlett when not involved in charity matches or personal appearances elsewhere. The tic fever he caught in Northern Rhodesia began to affect his health and he died in Switzerland at the age of 57.
Club member Chris Dexter, as a sole surviving Jardine team-mate at Radlett, recalled some anecdotes in the programme of the England Amateur XI v Australia match at Cobden Hill in 1993.
Dexter, a Hertfordshire batsman, who died in 2002, remembered the sheer quality of Jardine’s batting and the way, at the age of 48, he stroked the ball through gaps as he did in his Oxford and Surrey years. However his innings were always relatively short, and there was a reason.
Dexter wrote: “We learned why he no longer played the game regularly. He told us that, from the effects of a tropical disease he had had, he found that his hands swelled up, making it painful to grip his bat handle if he batted for an hour or more.”
As for Jardine’s personality, Dexter added: “To our surprise we found him to be most mild-mannered and friendly to us all. Most certainly he had mellowed. He merged quietly and comfortably into our club life.”
Dexter suggested that Jardine’s reputation during his years as England’s captain might have been unjustified, a stern image fuelled by his passionate, almost manic, desire to beat Australia. His players and friends were fiercely loyal.
JARDINE’S CLASS . . .
ALTHOUGH in his fifties, Jardine showed what a good bat he had been. “Against West Herts he destroyed their top bowler, Ted Hawes,” recalled Chris Dexter, who also joined Radlett that year. “Fielding in the slips with him I learnt a lot about his cricket. Once, when asked by our skipper to bowl, Jardine declined and said he was like some German women – rather loose and very expensive!”
FURTHER JARDINE STORIES
Hobbs makes a point
Jack Hobbs, a true gentleman of cricket, wanted to point out in the gentlest possible way how cramped the Surrey professionals’ changing-room was in the Oval basement.
He called Douglas Jardine in the comfortable captain’s room on the intercom and asked him to settle an argument about the proper extent of the follow-through of an off-drive. Jardine reluctantly agreed, went down and swung his bat through. “Oh no,” said Hobbs, “we mean your full follow-through, captain.”
Their captain let rip with a lavish drive and smashed out the ceiling light. He retreated upstairs to gleeful comments about no room to swing a bat, let alone a cat.